A Simple Way to Make Daily Decisions to Strengthen Your Relationship
Perhaps you’ve already heard this saying “Pick your hard”, but what does it really mean?
First of all, I get that when you hear this, it sounds like ALL options are hard, and who wants that? But once I understood what it was really about, it really had a profound impact on my life, and for that reason, I’d love to share it with you.
Here’s the idea:
In almost every situation in life, we have at least two choices. Sometimes the decision is easy – there is a clear one that will bring us joy now AND later, is simple and exactly what we want. And most often, if the outcome of that decision is that good, we probably don’t even really think of it as a decision. We just know our answer because it’s so clear it doesn’t even really feel like a choice at all to make.
But then there are things in our life that don’t have a clear answer. We may feel at odds with what we want in the moment and what is best for us in the long-term. What choice do you make? This is where it gets muddy and the concept of “pick your hard” comes in. There are times, in almost every aspect of our lives, in which we can make a decision in the moment which is easy and feels good, but continuing to make that same choice over and over again in the long run actually creates even more “hard” in our lives.
Here’s a simple example:
Take the choice to eat an ice cream cone or a salad. For those of us that love ice cream more than salads, the easy choice in the moment is to choose the ice cream cone. But if you continue to make the easy choice over and over again, you’ll gain weight and then the outcome of carrying extra weight, having your clothes not fit well and your health compromised will be hard. This results in “the hard” existing 24/7, 365 days a year until you start making different choices, which will be even HARDER now that you’re in the starting spot you’re in.
This is Hard #1: Easy in the short term/moment, but hard in the long-term. Until you start making a different choice, it will at best case stay as hard as it is but most likely will only get harder.
The other option is to make the choice more often than not to eat the salad. By making that momentary choice to take the healthier option, you’ve committed to your health not only in the moment, but for your future. Your choices are creating a life in which shopping is joyful, you are living with energy and feeling good and staying away from medicines and illnesses. And while the choice might be a bit tougher in the moment, the toughness is more or less over after you’ve made the choice, eaten the salad and moved on with your day. Yes, it will come up the next time you are given that choice, but there is a break, a refuge of “the hard” in between choices.
This is Hard #2: "Hard" in the moment, but creating easy for the long-term. It might be tough choice in the moment, but here’s the kicker: the more you continue to make that seemingly “hard” choice, the easier it will become. You’ll create a new habit that will serve you in the long-run.
Now let’s apply this to our marriage or relationship:
Here’s the situation: You are tired and overwhelmed with work and kids and you are feeling frustrated that your spouse isn’t helping more with all the chores/obligations. It feels like everything is all on you, which leaves little time to actually take care of yourself and it feels like clearly no one else is worried about taking care of you, either.
The easy choice in the moment might be to snap at your partner, to make snide comments under your breath, or perhaps to even just hold it all in and shut yourself off from him/her and just do it all to try to “keep the peace”. You continue to make those choices over and over again. The outcome is that, over time, your partner starts snapping back at your which then blows up into an actual argument. Your partner shuts down and ignores you, which makes you feel even more unloved. Perhaps if you keep quiet and just do it all yourself, they think that they can’t do things up to your standard or that you don’t need them any longer, so then they don’t even bother trying, which pushes you even further apart and increases your resentment and frustration even more.
This is example of Hard #1 – Easy short-term decision that feels "good" in the moment, but hard in the long-term, and with the prediction that if you keep on this path, the hard will only get harder.
Or – you can choose this “hard”: Take a deep breath and acknowledge that you're feeling tired and overwhelmed. You'll bite your tongue from saying something snarky when you come home to find your partner watching TV and dinner hasn’t been started. Instead, you will ask how his/her day was and then kindly ask for help making dinner, or helping the kids with homework or whatever the thing is that you need in the moment.
This type of respect leads to more teamwork and partnership. This reduces resentment, frustration and overwhelm. This leads to more energy to have fun in the relationship, even if it’s being silly in the kitchen together as a family, which then leads to getting even more support because you are no longer afraid to ask, which means you have time to take care of yourself. And when your cup is filled and you are happy, you’re more likely to feel connection with your partner and viola, more physical intimacy!
This is an example of Hard #2 – Momentary hard in the moment to bite your tongue and keep your cool, but as soon as you’ve done that and you’ve asked for help, everything is easier. You got the help you needed and created a lovely evening in your household and with your partner/spouse. The more you practice keeping your cool and seeing the positive outcome, the easier it becomes so that that’s how it always is. Now you’ve gotten to Easy Street!
That being said, I do want to point out that shifting into this way of thinking is a practice and takes practice. You can make an immediate decision to use this way of thinking, but allow yourself grace and time to shift your mind into thinking in this way as your default.
This mindset has been so powerful for me in so many areas of my life: parenting, health, relationships. While no one ever wants anything to be hard, evaluating your choices in this way ensures you aren’t letting individual moments in your life create a life in which you wake up one day and ask “how did I get here?” with “here” not being the wonderful life you imagined.
Drop a comment if you’d like to learn how to create a beautiful life by giving up “hard” altogether!